Lebanese Civilian Shot Dead by Israeli Army at Border
A 21-year-old Lebanese civilian from the southern Lebanon village of Wardiniye was shot dead Saturday by the Israeli army at the Fatima gate border post, Lebanese police said.
Hilal Ahmad Hajj was among a group throwing stones at an Israeli border post when a soldier fired a burst from his automatic weapon at them.
Hajj was hit in the head and taken by his friends to the Nabnatiyeh hospital, where he was declared dead, police said, quoting witnesses.
Five Lebanese civilians, including a five-year-old, were injured Thursday at another border post situated near a religious site claimed by both Muslims and Jews.
The Israeli army regularly fires at groups of stone-throwers who have turned the border into a pilgrimage site since May 24, when Israel ended its 22-year occupation of south Lebanon.
Israeli soldiers reportedly have orders to shoot at demonstrators if they feel they are in immediate danger.
At least 12 civilians have been killed, both Lebanese and other Arabs, and more than 40 have been injured by Israeli fire at the border over the past seven months.
In the meantime, the Israeli military denied it fired three shells on southern Lebanon early Saturday from the disputed Shebaa farms area.
"The Israeli army did not fire at southern Lebanon. There has been no shooting at all in this sector," said an Israeli military spoeksman.
Lebanese Police said the shells were fired from an observation post on the western side of Mount Hermon and exploded in an uninhabited mountainous region two kilometers (1.3 miles) from the Lebanese border.
They were accompanied by bursts of heavy machine gun fire and flares, the police said.
As of December 18, when police said three shells were also fired into the same area, nothing was reported that could have sparked the Israeli shooting.
Israel has warned Lebanon and Syria of firm retaliation if the Shiite Lebanese militia Hizbollah led one more attack on its troops in the Shebaa farms, an area Israel captured from Syria in 1967 and on which Beirut recently laid claim.
Since the May 24 withdrawal of Israeli troops from southern Lebanon after 22 years of occupation, Hizbollah has been leading military operations against Israeli military forces in Shabaa farms.
On November 26, an Israeli soldier died in a bomb attack led by the Shiite militia, and six weeks earlier, three were captured in the Shebaa farms -- (AFP)
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